ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Missouri Mavericks forward Tyler Currier was on top of the world – figuratively and nearly literally.
The native of Anchorage, Alaska, was standing on a glacier atop Mount McKinley, showing off the wonders of his state to me and my wife Stacy as we made our first trek north to the 49th state.
“All last season,” Currier said, “I’d talk to my friends or teammates and tell them about Alaska and how beautiful it is. I’d show them photos of my dad’s glass cabin, or his log cabin, or the ocean, or the mountains and they’d kind of look at me and say, ‘That’s nice.’
“I know the pictures are nice, but they don’t do it justice. It’s like standing on this glacier. Isn’t it the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen? You’re going to get back home, show everyone your photos and they’d going to be like, “That’s nice.’ So come on Bill, you have to sell them on Alaska. I want everyone from Missouri – especially Independence and the surrounding area – to come to Alaska and see what we’re talking about.”
I told Currier that if the hockey thing doesn’t work out, he’d be a good travel agent.
Our entire stay in Alaska, Currier was sky high – not just because of the trip to the glacier – but because of all the offers he is contemplating before next season.
“Any decision I make will be right, because the offers are amazing,” said Currier, who only wanted to make public the fact that he had been offered a return contract to sign with the Mavericks.
“I loved my time in Missouri – loved it!” he said enthusiastically. “I made lifelong friends. I played with guys I still text and talk to every week, and I may never be a part of a better organization, from the coaches, to the trainer, the equipment manager to Brent (Thiessen, team president and general manager) and the front office.
“But my dream is to play in the NHL, so I have to look at some options. Should I stay in Independence and help the Mavericks win their first championship, or should I go to another league and see what I can do there?"
Currier was considered a promising rookie threat, but he was hampered by a broken ankle suffered in the team's first week of practice. He played 35 games but finished with just nine points on four goals and five assists.
“I want the fans in Missouri to see me play when I’m healthy," Currier added. "After breaking my ankle, I never was 100 percent. But the organization stuck with me, and now I have the chance to go back to the Mavericks.
“But the other offers are so good I have to think about them. And it’s made for a tough summer because I just don’t know what I am going to do. I don’t feel comfortable talking about the other teams, because when I do make my decision, I think they should make the announcement.”
Currier isn’t just blowing rarified-air smoke when he talks about his love of the Mavericks. Sitting on the coffee table in his mother Teresa’s fashionable Anchorage home is a 9-inch-thick scrapbook that was presented to him by a fan at the end of last season.
“Just think if I’d have played more games,” said Currier, who carried the scrapbook home on the plane, not trusting it to baggage handlers. “It wouldn’t have fit through the door.”
His blue-collar, quick-with-a-joke dad, Craig, runs Currier’s Asphalt, and when Tyler isn’t hammering out a three-hour daily workout, he’s pouring the hot stuff in parking lots, shopping malls and a variety of Anchorage businesses.
“It’s a good thing I know the boss,” quips Currier, who works 16 to 20 hours a weekend, to make up for lost time during the week due to his strenuous workout routine, “or he might find someone to replace me.”
Only time will tell if first-year Mavericks coach Richard Matvichuk will have to find someone to replace the personable Alaskan, who is living a dream of playing pro hockey.
“I can’t ask for much more than I have right now,” Currier said. “I’ve got the chance to play pro hockey another year, to see what happens on the ice and take it from there. If it doesn’t work out, I’m going to be calling all my friends in Missouri and asking them if I can help arrange their travel plans.”
Judging from the help his mother gave me and my wife – with an itinerary that was straight out of the Guide To Alaska Playbook – he’d probably do a pretty good job.
But he’s going to be too busy on the ice to even think about airline tickets, hotel reservations and ocean cruises.
Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at 816-350-6333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC